What do employers look for while recruiting fresh pass-outs in their ranks?
If you think they care much about the theoretical knowledge of your studied subjects, you may be mistaken. No matter how much theoretical knowledge you have, unless you display the ability of putting it into practice, surviving in a career will be an uphill task for you. Moreover, unless you are a graduate in a professional course like engineering, architecture, law or medical graduate, the subjects you studied will not even matter much to your employer. What will matter is how big a bag of skills you bring to the table. The National Employability Report (Aspiring Minds) in 2013 found that a staggering 47% of graduates in India were unemployable in any sector of the knowledge economy. Further, breaking down the employability according to sectors, it was found that less than 16 per cent graduates were employable in sales related roles, 21 per cent in BPO sector and less than 3 per cent in functional roles such as accounting.
A wide range of organizations today look for bright graduates to man initial positions in multiple fields. Be it sales departments, business process outsourcing units, event management agencies, research analysts, finance sector companies, hospitality sector or back office departments – a large field is open for fresher’s seeking an entry into work life.
However, in India we observe a major paucity of graduates who are skilled enough to be employable. This appears disturbing in an unemployment ridden country which produces 5 million graduates annually. While some lack communication skills, others are not yet computer savvy in this age of technology. Others lack the capability of analyzing basic facts and figures; and most incapable of putting their theoretical rote learning into application. Even writing emails appear to be a challenging task for some. Despite a major opening up of the country with students having maximum exposure to new age trends and technology, this gap is a serious lacunae that makes our graduates unemployable. Those who do land up jobs are paid abysmally low as recruiters then train them in basic skills.
Let’s take a look at the skills that add to your employability
Communication skills: A good communicator is a good catch. Efficient communication skills can make you stand apart among a queue of interviewees. A confident demeanor, an ability to put thoughts into words, good verbal and written communication, and ability to convincingly deliver presentations can make much difference to your profile. It can not only improve your marketability in the market but also improve your chances of beginning with a decent salary. Being part of extra-curricular activities, on stage appearances as well as joining literary and creative writing groups during college can help you improve on your communication skills. At the same time if you find yourself lacking in this area, it may help to join a brief professional crash course on improving communication skills.
For students in smaller towns and cities, language and computer skills are gaps that put them at a disadvantage against their peers in metros, despite them being at par or sometimes better with respect to other skills and knowledge. Colleges have an important role to role in bridging this gap and compensate for the lack of exposure.
General Awareness: A good knowledge of what is happening around the world adds to your personality and IQ, no matter which sector you are working in. This helps you develop more relevant marketing campaigns, give contemporary touch to your discussions and makes you more confident. Unfortunately, a lot young graduates we encounter today do not even have the habit of reading a newspaper daily. This takes away from your profile.
Analytical Skills: This may not have been taught in your Economics class, but it helps to have a certain level of analytical skills to be able to perform well in a competitive space. It helps you to be able to interpret facts and figures and derive basic meanings from them. For example, if you are working in a field of corporate communication or content development, very often you would be presented with raw facts and figures which you need to transform into meaningful communication, media statements or research conclusions. The 2013 National Employability Report found the employability of graduates to be abysmally low in these skills. Just 3 per cent of graduates surveyed possessed the ability to conduct numerical and data analysis, deduce meaning and generalize from specific information.
Computer literacy: This is one of the most important skills needed in the present day. Being computer literate means that you are able to work effectively on basic MS Office operations; update Excel Sheets, and prepare Power Point Presentations. An added skill set in graphics and video editing can make you more useful in some fields; and in an increasingly social media centric world, the more you will be able to prove yourself beneficial to your employer. It is extremely important to get yourself equipped with these skills before you appear for interviews. Employers today hardly have the patience of teaching recruits these operations.
Soft Skills: Not just visible hard skills mentioned above, but a whole gamut of soft skills are also required if you want to establish yourself in a career and rise through the ladder. Adaptability in a competitive environment, ability to persuade and manage relations with customers and clients, flexibility and out-of-the-box thinking are abilities that help employees rise up the rank. While a good qualification and technological skills will land you in a good position, these soft skills will come handy as you navigate through the daily challenges of work life.
For parents who bring up their children and teachers who teach them, it is important to make children step out of the comfortable confines of the homes while growing up and help them grow up through their experiences. It is also important to encourage out-of-the-box thinking in them and inculcate in them a problem solving ability from early life. These skills will help them adapt better to work life challenges.
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